We booked our excursion to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher along the Wild Atlantic Way with Wild Rover Tours via Viator for $57 per person. Viator is a great way to connect with local tours and attractions, but beware–while they have tickets for just about everything, not all will actually save you money. For instance, admittance to Edinburgh Castle is something I would just purchase in person.
Bright and early Sunday morning, we checked out of the Belvedere and walked to the Gresham Hotel a block away for pick up at 7 am. We made our first pit stop at the Barack Obama Plaza. I thought I misheard our guide, but it was a rest stop with cafes and a convenience store. Upstairs was an exhibit about Obama but we didn’t have time because the coach had a very strict schedule.
Our guide, Tara (tar-ah), said we drove through 3 out of the 4 provinces on our way from Dublin to Galway.
The Cliffs of Moher were breathtaking and terrifying at the same time. I’ve never enjoyed nature like that before. Ever. I felt like nothing had changed in a millennium, like I’d stepped back in time, like I was in the land of my ancestor’s.
Hot Tip: Wear shoes with traction because I almost died because there was absolutely zero on my Toms and there was mud everywhere. I had to hold Emeline’s hand on the way back and a stranger grabbed me by the shoulders at one point.
Tara said that 30 people die every year from falling off–there are no rails because Ireland is a part of the Leave No Trace ethics program. In fact, they are so invested in LNT that the gift shops were underground like hobbit holes because of laws protecting the view.
After that, we drove to the Burren. On the way, Tara told us about the Irish potato famine, where one-third of the population was lost because one million died of starvation and two million immigrated to America. The population still hasn’t recovered at 4.3 million. The British nobility at the time had the starving, Catholic population build penny walls to earn a meal even though they had no actual purpose.
The Burren is a karst landscape of bedrock incorporating a vast cracked pavement of glacial-era limestone, with cliffs and caves, fossils, rock formations and archaeological sites.
On the way to Galway, the roads were so narrow that we came within a hair’s breadth of another coach and the whole group applauded when we made it past.
On a brief tour of Galway before we had free time to explore and grab lunch, Tara told us the story of the cladagh ring:
Richard Joyce was captured by an Algerian pirate and apprenticed as a goldsmith. Joyce eventually made the merchant so much money that he offered his daughter in marriage, the Irishman declined and asked to go home because his sweetheart was waiting for him. Lo and behold, she was and Joyce proposed with the cladagh ring.
The crown represents loyalty, the hands represent friendship, and the heart represents love. If you wear it on your left hand pointing inwards it means you’re married, pointing outwards it means you’re engaged. If you wear it on your right hand pointing inwards it means you’re in a relationship, pointing outwards it means you’re single and looking.
We ate at Cooke’s restaurant. I had the catch of the day (cod) with mash, carrots, broccoli & parsnips, and an Americano. After that, we stopped in an arts & crafts shop, but I didn’t buy anything and I regret not having anything from Galway. I guess I’ll just have to go back someday.
We rode back to Dublin (getting in around 7:45 pm), got let off on O’Connell Bridge, hailed a cabbie–Ivanov–who drove like mad to get us to the airport on time. We flew through security, but they did stop to ask me about my q-tips. Did they think they were blowdarts? After all the rushing though, the flight ended up being delayed an hour.
We skipped customs at London Stansted because it was so late and went straight out to our cab and drove back to Selwyn, getting in at about 2 am. It wasn’t ideal, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. For a new mom and wife, it was practically a miracle.